The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston: A new standard of luxury

By Trish Donnally Public Relations Manager, Perkins Eastman | August 05, 2018

The recent opening of The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston dramatically raises the standard for luxury in Houston as well as anywhere else in the country. Elegantly ensconced within a soaring vertical mixed-use tower that also includes fashionable restaurants, top-drawer retail shops and 10 floors of trophy office space, the hotel offers its own Rolls-Royce showroom along with an adjacent Bentley and Bugatti dealership. Tilman Fertitta, host of CNBC's "Billion Dollar Buyer," owner of the Houston Rockets, and Chairman, CEO and owner of Landry's Inc., owns this one-of-a-kind, $350 million, 10-acre property, which provides almost every luxury imaginable, including a rooftop helipad for guests arriving by private helicopter.

"The catalyst was user experience," said Raffael Scasserra, LEED-AP, RA, Gensler Principal and Design Director. Gensler Houston, collaborating with Fertitta and his in-house development team, designed the master plan, architecture and interior finishes for The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston at 1600 West Loop South. While the focus of the program was originally purely for a classic, timeless and stylish hotel, it quickly grew into an exciting vertical mixed-use project that would include offices, extended stay spaces, retailing and dining. Throughout the process of creating The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, which was designed to be a Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond hotel, the Gensler team designed through the perspective of a global, well-traveled and sophisticated client.

"We had a great dialog with Tilman. He was the visionary behind the pursuit to create a Houston icon. We built upon the vision quickly. The project was constantly evolving, it was very iterative," Scasserra continued. By incorporating hospitality features at the base, topped with offices, sandwiching in luxury guestrooms, adding more offices higher up including Landry's executive offices, plus the 5,000-square-foot Presidential Suite, Post Oak Suite, Concierge Lounge and VIP Lounge, all crowned with a helipad on the roof, Gensler provided a high level of amenity offerings plus very curated experiences.

"The vision Tilman had was not only of a high-level environment of a hotel, and a high level of service, but a high level of experience," Scasserra said. "He talked about having a gourmet meal delivered to an office space, taking a private helicopter to a meeting and returning for an exclusive meeting in the VIP Lounge. As a luxury product, I don't know of too many other cities that offer this kind of experience."

Fertitta's Post Oak Motor Cars, home to Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Bugatti Houston, and his headquarters were already on the property, so Gensler created a campus plan with walkable allees, streetscapes and boulevards to connect the various buildings on the property, respecting the materiality of what already existed. The firm designed a 700,000-square-foot tower with the refined quality and famous attention to detail found in a Rolls-Royce.
 
The journey begins the moment you enter the two-story atrium lobby with seemingly acres of white marble. A mesmerizing custom-designed chandelier, inspired by the opulence of an Oscar-worthy necklace, shimmers and glistens with 15,719 cascading crystals. "Each of those Bohemian crystal glass components was handblown, and 739 of them are Swarovski crystal balls at the end of each strand," said Gail McCleese, RID, Interior Design Director of Gensler. She traveled with Landry's Senior Designer, Monet Dehmer, to the Lasvit factory in Czechia to oversee the creation of the bespoke chandelier, which also includes 1,428 LED light sources. This chandelier was designed to dazzle, to provide a "Wow" factor the moment a guest enters the lobby. It's the kind of unexpected element hotel owners and operators of luxury properties are looking for these days.

Four monumental Ebony Woodridge stone pillars anchor and frame the immense seating area, which features a custom-designed, abstract, hand-tufted silk and wool rug in neutral shades and various curvaceous beige leather sofas surrounded by burnt orange or ombre taupe velvet chairs. Color comes from massive works of art by Frank Stella. Natural light washes across the lobby, creating an openness and transparency rare in most hotel lobbies.

Gensler Houston was master planner, architect and interior designer for The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, a grand new hotel owned by Tilman Fertitta, Chairman, CEO and owner of Landry's Inc.
The Lobby of The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston is crowned by a custom-designed chandelier made of 15,719 handblown Bohemian crystal glass components and provides a view directly to the pool..
The bathrooms in the luxurious guestrooms at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston feature five fixtures, statuario marble, a chandelier, lighted mirrors and marble mosaic rugs.
Strategically wrapping a two-story Rolls-Royce showroom around a sculptural white marble and polished chrome spiral staircase crowned by a chandelier of twisted glass rods.
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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.